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Millions for minds

<p>Some day, in the not too distant future, drivers in downtown Ottawa will receive real-time updates regarding the nearest empty parking space to them.</p>




Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa



Dr. Hussein Mouftah shows off a chip that will be used in a wireless sensor network that he’s developing.





Some day, in the not too distant future, drivers in downtown Ottawa will receive real-time updates regarding the nearest empty parking space to them.



More importantly, the same technology will allow doctors at the Heart Institute to check the cholesterol levels of patients in Vancouver, using injected microscopic chips.



The technology that will drive these wireless sensors is being developed by Hussein Mouftah, one of three University of Ottawa researchers to receive $6 million in grants from the Ontario Research Fund yesterday.



Mouftah will receive $3 million for a lab to conduct experiments with a new wireless network, as opposed to computer simulations.



"This is the first time we’ll be able to physically get our hands on something and try different things before putting it out there," said Morwan Fayed, a PhD student working with Mouftah.



Mouftah is attempting to build a system that will allow data to jump through different, existing network infrastructures — such as those used for wireless Internet or cellular phones — without losing the message as it passes.



"It would be like translating something from French to English to German, then to Chinese and then back again," he said, "And it has to be done in nanoseconds."



A $2-million investment will help Emil Petriu, from the School of Information Technology and Engineering, develop a video surveillance system that will recognize people and their activities. Petriu says it could be used to predict human intent and minimize crime in crowds.



And Civil Engineering professor Leta Fernandes will receive $1 million to study solutions that will reduce waste in landfills and recover bio-energy.



"In a few years we’ll see a lot of these technologies coming off the shelves," said University of Ottawa president Gilles Patry.




tim.wieclawski@metronews.ca



 
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